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Town of Hempstead Approves Unfair Redistricting Plan Maps

Despite testimony from its citizens stating the unfairness and illegality of their redistricting maps, the Hempstead Town Board approved them on Valentine's Day.


Every 10 years, every town, county, assembly, senate and congressional districts are redistricted. The Town of Hempstead redistricts the Town, Nassau County Legislature redistricts the Nassau County Legislature, the state Senate redistricts the state Senate, the state Assembly redistricts the Assembly and the state legislature redistricts congressional districts for the next 10 years.


For the record, the process called gerrymandering has been and is still used - at all levels of local, state and Federal government - and by both Democrats and Republicans to redraw district lines for their party's own purposes.


This post provides general information about the subject and then focuses our attention on how the current Republican majority on the Hempstead Town Board is using gerrymandering to draw lines that favor their party's agenda.


My intention in presenting this matter is to provide us with the facts and let us - the voters - decide for ourselves what's fair and unfair...AND THEN ACT! See "VOTE WITH OUR FEET" below...


THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO HELPED WITH THIS POST!!!


In a hurry?

--Using North Carolina as an example, it shows how elections were won by using two

of the gerrymandering techniques: Packing and Cracking. This information and more

is explained below in the section entitled

"EXHIBIT F: THE MAN WHO RIGGED AMERICA'S ELECTION MAPS."


2. Read the 2 letters in sections "Exhibit B" and "Exhibit C" to see how gerrymandering is affecting our Town of Hempstead politics.


3. Just "hear" to listen to the music? Scroll down to "Exhibit E" and you'll be prepared when we're marching in the streets...


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POST OUTLINE

  • BACKGROUND/NEWS ARTICLES

  • EXHIBIT A: Town of Hempstead's Lack of Transparency

  • EXHIBIT B: Attorneys' letter challenging the maps

  • EXHIBIT C: Political party's letter challenging the maps

  • EXHIBIT D: Terms and Conditions

  • EXHIBIT E: Sing & Learn Time

  • EXHIBIT F: The Man Who Rigged America's Election Maps

  • Cartoon Break

  • EXHIBIT G: Backrooms...Dark Alleys...Behind Closed Doors...

  • Vote with our Feet (action steps)


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BACKGROUND/NEWS ARTICLES


Despite requests from its residents, the Town of Hempstead was not willing to redraw it's proposed redistricting maps. By law, it's required to review these every Census year. To make matters worse, the Town leaders were not very transparent in their dealings with their residents and only when pressured did they agree to hold public hearings...BUT,


  • Without offering them on Zoom...

  • Holding some of these during the days when folks are working...and,

  • Holding the final hearing on VALENTINE'S DAY... and an evening meeting at that.


CURRENT NEWS ARTICLES


“The league (of Women Voters) takes positions on a variety of policy issues, but never supports or opposes any political party or candidate,” Moskowitz said. “Our review of the commission’s proposed maps reveals deliberate manipulation of district lines.”


"The last time officials got together to redraw district lines, it was done to benefit legislators without any concern for the needs of Nassau County communities, said Karen Moskowitz, co-chair of the League of Women Voters of Nassau County’s redistricting committee — specifically communities of color."


(from the article - with my added emphasis)

Since the first day of the redistricting process, the concerns raised by opponents to the initial town-drawn maps circle back to a single theme: District lines should be redrawn to have a more balanced demographic representation. That means creating three “minority-majority” districts, that would allow minority communities a chance to elect someone who would be more likely to represent them on the town board.


For example, 90 percent of Elmont’s population are people of color. However, the current map proposal places Elmont in a district with Garden City, which has an 88 percent white population.

Placing Elmont in a district with neighborhoods they have nothing in common with dilutes the votes of its residents and impairs the outcome of elections...


Critics also questioned the map’s compliance with federal and state voting rights protections — specifically the Voting Rights Act and New York’s John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. If Hempstead finalizes the current map as it stands, it could expose the town to costly litigation at the taxpayers’ expense.


“This is socioeconomic racism to the core — disenfranchisement and blatant discrimination,” said Pearl Jacobs, a Uniondale resident and president of the Nostrand Gardens Civic Association.

“I really hope that this goes to the courts so they can shed a light, nationwide, on the racism that occurs in Nassau County.”


THE NEWLY APPROVED MAPS DO NOT REFLECT THE TOWN'S CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS...


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EXHIBIT A: Town of Hempstead's Lack of Transparency


Jerry on "Jerrymandering"


As stated at the beginning, there's been a significant lack of transparency as the redrawing process was rolling out. Here's more: one of the comments on the iPetitions.com site (see link to sign at the end of post)


"Don Clavin's redistricting process has been a sham. No posts on social media, no mailings. Information about redistricting wasn't put on the event calendar until residents complained. The only time an email dedicated to redistricting was sent is when one of the meetings was rescheduled.


Essentially Don Clavin DID NOT want residents to know about this process."

According to its own policy, the Town is supposed to post notices about its public meetings. I checked on Feb. 12 @ 1:15 PM and there wasn't any info about the Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day) public meeting on the proposed redistricting plan. All they showed was last Tuesday's meeting (Feb. 7). See for yourself.



Voters are like mushrooms...keep 'em in the dark and feed 'em bullshit.


This humorous but serious quote reminded me of yet another lack of transparency that was brought up at one of the public hearings I attended. A resident addressed the Town Board members stating that while they spent taxpayers' money with multiple mailings about their Christmastime "Mulchfest" and they did NOTHING to inform us about the public hearings on their proposed redistricting plans.



I was amazed but not surprised to discover some interesting connections between Christmas traditions like trees and mushrooms. See the articles I've included in the "Extra Resources" section at the end of the post.


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EXHIBIT B: Attorneys' letter sent Jan. 9, 2023 to the Town Board


--At one of the recent public hearings, I received a 10-page letter that cited these statistics:

  • "...over 38% of of the Town's population is Black or Latino, but Black and Latino voters are only afforded an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice in one out of the six districts (only 16.7% of the seats)."

  • "Over the last 10 years, the Town's white population has fallen dramatically from 68.3% in 2010 to 53.7% in 2020, while the combined Black and Latino population has grown from 33.9% in 2010 to 38.5% in 2020. Notwithstanding these significant demographic shifts, the Commission's December 20, 2022 proposal maintains five majority-white districts (83.3% of the seats) and only one majority-Black district (16.7% of the seats). This proposal will perpetuate severe under-representation of Black and Latino voters on the Town Council."

Letter sent by signatories from: Legal Defense Fund, Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington, Newman Ferrara LLP and LatinoJustice PRLDEF


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EXHIBIT C: Political party's letter challenging the legality of the maps


This letter sent to the Town Board presents a concise explanation of the why the proposed and now approved maps are unfair and potentially illegal and will likely be challenged in court. The added emphases are mine.


January 24, 2023


Supervisor Donald Clavin

Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby

Councilman Thomas Muscarella

Councilwoman Melissa Miller

Councilman Chris Carini

Councilman Dennis Dunne


Re: Redistricting


Dear Supervisor Clavin and Town Board:


The Bellmore Merrick Democratic Club fights for social justice in the Town of Hempstead and throughout our country. We write to request the Town of Hempstead establish fair and equitable districts in compliance with NYS Municipal Law, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and in the spirit of the NYS John R. Lewis Act that was passed in June of 2022.


According to the 2023 census, 47% of the Town is populated by people of color, legally defined as the “protected class.” However, currently only 16.7% of the Town’s protected class has a representative on this board. Our tax dollars paid for a map that favors incumbents. However, five maps were submitted to the Temporary Redistricting Commission by the Elmont Cultural Center and attorneys from the law office of Fred Brewington, the Legal Defense Fund, Newman Ferrara and Latino Justice that provide an opportunity for the protected class to elect a representative of their choice.


Violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is established if a political subdivision creates districts wherein “the ability of members of the protected class to elect candidates of their choice or to influence the outcome of elections is impaired.” Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act requires “that if there is racially polarized voting and if a minority opportunity district can be drawn, then it must be drawn.” Ninety percent (90%) of Elmont, for example, is populated by people of color. Yet, the maps submitted by the Republican commissioners place Elmont in a district with Garden City, clearly diluting the votes of Elmont residents and impairing the outcome of elections.


Hundreds of your constituents attended and/or commented on the Redistricting Commission’s proposed maps. People told heart-wrenching stories of how hard they and their ancestors fought for the right to have a vote that counted. Putting the protected class with districts in which they have nothing in common, dilutes their vote, racially discriminates and is in violation of federal and state laws. Yet, the motion made by the Redistricting Commission for the Town Board to only consider keeping communities whole is totally deaf to what your constituents plead. It does not ask that the Board consider the changing demographics and the need to comply with voting rights acts with respect to the protected class. Keeping communities together is preferred, but not mandated.


Five of the six maps being considered by the Redistricting Commission create three majority-minority districts. According to the prevalent voting rights acts, if three minority districts can be drawn, then three minority districts must be drawn.


We, therefore, ask you to consider the five maps submitted by the Elmont Cultural Center and the aforementioned attorneys and establish three majority minority districts in accordance with federal and state laws.


Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Very truly yours,

Claudia Borecky

Bellmore-Merrick Democratic Club

Redistricting Committee Chair


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EXHIBIT D: Terms and Conditions


Terms

a) Redistricting

b) Gerrymandering

c) Cracking

d) Packing

e) Majority/Minority Districts


a) Redistricting


Every 10 years, every town, county, assembly, senate and congressional districts are redistricted. The Town of Hempstead redistricts the Town, Nassau County Legislature redistricts the Nassau County Legislature, the state Senate redistricts the state Senate, the state Assembly redistricts the Assembly and the state legislature redistricts congressional districts for the next 10 years.


--This concise article explains the key points.


Congressional Redistricting: Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau releases a new census, which documents population growth patterns across the country. In order to reflect the new census, states must redraw their district lines.


b) Gerrymandering

Is the practice of one party drawing a congressional map designed to maximize their share of seats in a given state (or other jurisdiction).


c) Cracking

In redistricting, cracking refers to the practice of drawing electoral districts that divide the population of a community or constituency across several districts. In doing so, the influence of the community or constituency may be reduced, preventing the group from forming a voting block within any single district sufficient to elect the group's preferred candidates. This practice contrasts with packing...(see next section)


d) Packing

The population of a community or constituency is consolidated within a small number of districts, thereby minimizing its influence in other districts. Cracking and packing may be used in conjunction to minimize the influence of a particular voting bloc to benefit another, a practice referred to as gerrymandering.[1][2][3]


e) Majority-Minority District

A majority-minority district is a district in which a racial minority group or groups comprise a majority of the district's total population. Using data provided in the United States Census Bureau's 2021 American Community Survey and based on districts enacted after the 2010 census, the United States was home to 138 congressional majority-minority districts. This represented approximately 32% of the nation's 435 U.S. House districts.[1][2][3][4][5][6]


Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act mandates that no "standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." In the context of redistricting, federal law provides that majority-minority districts can be created in order to prevent the dilution of minorities' voting strength in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Thornburg v. Gingles, a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1986, established a three-part test for proving whether vote dilution in violation of the Voting Rights Act has occurred in a district or districts.[7]


Source: BallotPedia (see full article for footnotes)


Conditions (i.e., "results")


Bottom Line: Power and Money get moved into new hands - by those trying to call the shots by redrawing the lines to suit their party and their purposes...


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EXHIBIT E: Sing & Learn Time


Comments posted under these next 2 song-videos indicate that teachers are showing them in schools. KUDOS!!!


Readers: I had to transcribe the lyrics as no one as yet had posted them.




We got kind of nervous as we read the polling news

'Cause we sure need our paychecks, perks and titles, too

We looked at the addresses where we lost the vote and such

And then we had a great idea that wasn't cheatin' much


Just change the boundaries, redraw the lines

People in these districts vote the same way every time

We'll move the borders and we will dominate

First, take away the people's choice

And then we'll rule the state


These precincts came about through logic or geography

They're not carved in stone and so there's flexibility

Our party has to hold the state if we're to change the tide

No one will ever beat us with new districts on our side


Just change the boundaries, redraw the lines

People in these districts vote the same way every time

We'll move the borders and we will dominate

First, take away the people's choice

And then we'll rule the state


To steal elections...discriminate

Well the other party may fight 'em

But it will be too late

We'll blame the others, as we denominate

And we'll hold all the purse strings

By coincidence or fate...


Just change the boundaries, redraw the lines

People in these districts vote the same way every time

We'll move the borders and we will dominate

First, take away the people's choice

And then we'll rule the state






"Representative democracy in USA...we elect legislators...that's how laws are made

Four-hundred, thirty-five reps in Congress

Means four-hundred, thirty-five districts among us

But how do we decide who represents who?

We draw lines on a map, that's what we do.


District population should be roughly the same

So every vote counts in in the very same way

Keep communities together so every voice id heard

Since populations move, shift, shrink and expand


We get some data every census

And then we draw them again

So politicians are accountable

To every last woman and man


On-screen lyrics stop here at 0:44


Look here at these private money-changing hands to change each redistricting plan

We have to wonder what special interests state legislators (or Town) have in mind when they draw the lines...


CHORUS


C'mon!

PACKING

CRACKING

KIDNAPPING

HIJACKING

We decide how we divide

Bleach this district

Redraw the lines

If you want your party to win it ALL

But a whole lot of voters say, "NO!"

Just redraw those lines when it's election time


They're all cracked up

I'm cracking up

When the opposition is more widespread

You don't want to lose more

Just draw the nay's all in one place

Yeah! Pack 'em up!

Just pack 'em up!


C'mon!

PACKING

CRACKING

KIDNAPPING

HIJACKING

We decide how we divide

Bleach this district

Redraw the lines


You've got to draw the lines somewhere

But you can't just draw them anywhere


One man? One man? One vote?

That's ridiculous!


You're voice must be heard


If you really want an incumbent's seat

Just draw her home in someone else's zone

Kidnap her house

Hijack her out


And if you don't care about minorities

And you don't want to work for their vote

Keep 'em far away and they won't have a say

Don't you reach out

Just bleach them out


These days people are getting so much static

From both parties Republican and Democratic

They won't stop fighting

The people have had it

But they do agree on one thing

Oh, that's fantastic!

It's tragic,,,they want something...they grab it!


When you cast your vote

They're in the back room laughing


If you want to see bi-partisan tactics...


Just

CRACK IT

PACK IT

Go ahead and

KIDNAP IT


PACKING

CRACKING

KIDNAPPING

HIJACKING

We decide how we divide

Bleach this district

Redraw the lines"



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EXHIBIT F: THE MAN WHO RIGGED AMERICA'S ELECTION MAPS


Here's a 7.5 minute video lesson about gerrymandering.

  • Using North Carolina as an example, it shows how elections were won by using two of the gerrymandering techniques: Packing and Cracking.

  • It shows how once the gerrymandering produced its desired results, legislation favored by the "winning" party could be enacted.




(from this video) In 2016 and 2017, Federal courts ruled these maps not only gerrymandering but racial gerrymandering done to dilute the voting power of Black people.



Since Hofeller's racial gerrymandering attempts were declared unconstitutional, he was asked to devise a different strategy: use gerrymandered cracking and packing by political party (i.e., partisan gerrymandering).



This time, the Supreme Court said it wasn't their job to fix it...BUT, their ruling left open the possibility for state courts to rule on partisan gerrymandering. And that's exactly what the North Carolina State Court did in Sept. 2019. And it was Hofeller's files that proved the party had drawn these lines with the clear intention of benefiting themselves.



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CARTOON BREAK





This is NOT a “bored” game...It's serious...








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EXHIBIT G: Backrooms...Dark Alleys...Behind Closed Doors...




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VOTE WITH OUR FEET


Town of Hempstead Redistricting Comments Form (still available as of 2/22/23)



Write to your local newspaper

Contact your elected officials

Contact your local civic association

--Currently, there isn't ONE place to find links to these...so, you'll need to ask friends and family for the name of your local association and find their contact info online.

NOTE: On the Town of North Hempstead's official page they offer a list of all their civic and community support associations.


C'mon, Town of Hempstead, let's do the same!!!


Involve your circles of friends, co-workers...


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EXTRA RESOURCES


--I tweaked the original song for this post


Please read my Full Disclosure before checking out the next two articles:




Comments


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